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From "The Tradewinds" by Philip Waikoloa

Miranda (Chapter 17) Therapy

from " The Tradewinds" by Philip Scott Wikel

“The whole time we were having sex I kept repeating her name. On the floor, wishing we were in a bed. Awkward on the floor, and beds are sexy. It was hasty and intense and all that hollywooded passion crap, but beds are sexy,” I began.

“Who’s this?” Dr. Nolan asked.

“A girl named Miranda... last year.” I replied, took a deep breath, pushed my hand through my hair, and continued.

“Just an hour before, she'd said, ‘It's just like in the movies.’

I don't remember much of what she said before that and very little of what she said after. Very little but some. I always remember most of what I say. Always. And replay it, measure it, bounce it against the perceived personality who heard it or it was directed to, getting it wrong but thinking I've got it right and running it through the committee in my head until there comes, invariably, some fucked up filibuster that won't leave the floor until I shout it off, silently or aloud.

I remember a little of what she said. Most of it the sort that I’m given to get wrapped in, bounced by, smacking back and forth until my head is hollowed out and echoing with it. And again I shout it off, silently most of the time, never loud enough to keep it from getting into my stomach, tight and hot, rolling like a pinball, metal on metal with nowhere soft to land and no fantastic sound effects, metal on metal; a ball that started rolling 15 years ago with obsessive thoughts of ‘God is watching.’

We sat across the room from one another after she came in. She had taken two steps around me on the way up the driveway and already I felt her distance. I understood. I'd evolved in an hour from pituitary to manic, gulping wine and not knowing yet that I was drunk and needing to eat. No fuel for the fire and scattered.

She'd called from down the street, ‘Hey,’ just thirty feet away, and I couldn't figure whether to run, drop my pants or grab her. But when she came up the drive I couldn't reach her, those two steps, and me, walking like I did in high school, with new legs and learning "the walk." She said something like ‘this is nice’ as we walked toward my place and I felt patronized, and thought it's very small and just barely enough and because I measure myself harshly in the face of a woman I thought she was bullshitting, all you could see was a garage door, behind it being a converted studio. But I like her and she was reaching for conversation as was I because she wasn't supposed to be there, married and all. And married and all she'd broken from the grid to see me. I didn't realize at the time that I was already drunk and hadn't eaten and the wine was grinding things down, cheap wine and no fuel in the fire.

Miranda said, ‘I can see why you like it here.’

I felt patronized again but it's not because it's not a nice place, it's just that I want more. She was being sweet but I wouldn't realize this until a few days later and I was paralyzed, gone. We went in.

‘Want some wine?’ or

‘Would you like some wine. I'm not sure about this one but I hope I used the latter, it sounds nicer.

She said ‘No,’ at first, but then, confronted with a closed door and my look, like some hungry, frightened animal, she said yes. This was the first time that night that she said ‘No.’ Later it was no to this and no to that, the proverbial no that means yes. The proverbial no that for many means yes but always leaves me cold even though I know it might just be them being coy.

Her line about how it was in the movies was still a few minutes away. I felt this thing getting away already.

‘Where's your husband tonight?’

‘Home, trusting me... do you have any photo albums?’

I said ’Yeah,’ , I reached in the closet for one, handed it to her and then followed with a comment that surprised me as sincere about how this particular album was an attempt to piece together a wanderlusted life. Dad had been restless, restless. Her response felt patronizing, like I was to be felt sorry for, but I like her and could well...

... I could like her more. We looked at the album, sitting Indian-style on the floor, and I made stilted comments. Scattered and cold, powerless. The plaid pants I had worn as a child to Busch Gardens, Florida, about 8 years ago, looked a lot like hers. But hers were tighter, fit better and I wanted to touch her. But thinking I'm the other man here and still feeling Catholic, incense in my nose, Sacre Coeur.

She flipped through the pictures and I joked about the torn pajamas that had been my favorites.

‘Were you conceited when you were younger?’ she asked.

‘I guess I was the opposite, self-conscious.’

When we worked together, I wanted to jump over my desk, jump over the desk and kiss her on that sweet spot behind her shoulder, and her mouth. She sat in the next cubicle. I sat facing her side and she would run her hand down her front from her breasts to her crotch.

We moved to two chairs, one across from the other, four feet apart, in a spartan studio that looks more like a storage shed than a bachelor pad, not sexy. We tried conversation and I wanted to kiss her but had shut myself down with not breathing and decided to have a smoke. I handed her a poem I'd written and went outside:

I have it right here.”

“Read it please Morgan.” Dr. Nolan asked.

the schematic of all things

I think myself not superior,

but apart,

or better,

and at the same time,

a part.

I think of the things I do as not greater,

but lesser,

at least,

of less apparent impact.

I will not shine in your eyes erudition

on the subject

but instead give you a dim view.

And it's the you of this that must be figured,

you figure,

and I'll do the same and am doing the same.

because the definitions are that grey;

the sea joins the sky on a day heavy with fog,

that we must do so together.

The sun in myself on you and the apparent them .

What first they are not,

what you are not,

and then what I most certainly am,

the I being you as you become the eye in this and not superior,

but apart,

or better,

and at the same time

a part.

And then as a part of the greater,

or the higher,

reaching down to perform the lesser,

or less apparent,

the minute,

the trivial task that strikes like flint,

the power fed feeds.


or now you,

won't speak in specifics.


or you,

and finally we,

will not give logistics or diagrammatic signs of the specific.

Specificity dims the impact of the metaphor,

(the intellectuospiritual machine)

in which to plug the act,

the thought,

or the feeling,

and then just push "play."

“Nice poem Morgan... what happened next?,” said Dr. Nolan.

“Wrong candles burning, autumn spice, nice but not sexy. And sexy not having happened yet I went out to breathe, gulping at air and smoke like I was on a boat, sinking, wishing I was in the audience of the world that is a stage, watching.

Miranda said ‘It's interesting,’ talking about the poem, ‘I don't understand it but I like how the lines roll here (pointing), this repetition, and the way the lines stick out here and here... what's it about?’

I said something like blah, blah, blah, bullshit, bullshit. I'd just spoken to a friend, two friends about it, just before she came and I'd told them I didn't know what it's about, but with her I tried to explain, blah, blah, blah, bullshit, bullshit.

I said. ‘It was inspired by you.’

Miranda said, ‘You mean it's about me?’

I said, ‘Sort of.... I was thinking of you and the first line came into my mind and I had to get out of bed and write... I thought you would understand it. I was thinking of you.’

She smiled but didn't understand it. Her smile was enough to make me not care if she didn't understand.

Then I remembered, ‘You said you wanted to ask me something, 'a guy thing.'

‘Yeah, oh’ she said smiling, "Well, there's this guy... he... well he said something like... everyone in town knows me or has.. you know.. something like I've been with a lot of people... do you know what that means?’

I sat and tried to figure this. Was she trying to tell me she'd been pegged as some kind of slut, what did she want me to say, what was she looking for? I didn't want to think of her as having been with a bunch of guys and I couldn't figure if maybe this guy was just some prick that liked to bash women. Yeah, he's just some prick I thought.

‘Guys talk...,’ I said, ‘I've never really been one to talk... but guys talk... I think you're one of the most beautiful women I've ever met.’

She smiled a sort of disbelieving and shy half-smile.

‘I have some questions.’ I said stuttering, sounding like I was about to hold an important interview. Must have just been writerly curiosity, trying to make a story out of everything, or maybe just to know her more and to know I wasn't alone.

‘What do you really want to do?’ I asked.

‘I want to paint, right now I'm just painting signs, but I want to paint.’

And I was thinking that I wanted her to paint, I wanted her to paint and I wanted to sit and watch her paint and I wanted her to paint while I was away and when I would come home I wanted her to be excited by what she'd painted and want to share it with me. And I would write and we'd be near each other and we'd share things. These thoughts were coming to me fast and I didn't know what to do with them.

Then I asked, ‘What were you thinking on your way here?’”

‘Good question,” said Dr. Nolan

“Miranda said, ‘At first I thought we'd jump straight into bed, but as I got closer I thought we'd talk and then get in bed... by the time I got here I didn't know.’

I wished we'd both run into each other before we started getting rational. But now we sat, both not knowing but sharing the unknowing and looking at each other.

I said, ‘You mean you got more rational on the way?’

‘Yeah, I guess... I have to be at a friend’s to model, I can't stay long, I don't know why I said that, it's like in the movies, do whatever you'd be doing if I wasn't here.’

I told her I'd be on the floor watching a movie, and having said that I wondered how that struck her.

‘Well,’ she said, and I knew she was going to move toward me, ‘I'm going to come over there and kiss you.’

Thanks, I thought, close the gap for us, I can't move.

I told her she smelled nice and she thanked me...”

“Well?,” said Dr. Nolan.

“Oh yeah.”

The whole time we were having sex I kept repeating her name... like chanting a mantra... but still not feeling at home. Still hungry, and alone.

“I’m guessing you know what this one was all about don’t you Morgan?” Dr. Nolan asked smiling.

“I suppose it was sort of safe... her being married...”

“And no commitment... you weren’t ready to commit and she probably wouldn’t have if you wanted to. There are plenty of unmarried women in the world.”

“She seduced me.”

“That’s no excuse. If the two of you really wanted to be together she should have left her husband first and you should’ve drawn that line for her. You’ve been behaving like a tourist. Your attraction to these last two women is almost... you’ve been acting like a vulture.”

She was right and I cried. But I still loved Miranda and always would.

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